Maureen Anway is the Neighborhoods Associate at Invest Detroit and supports developers of neighborhood projects with their community engagement efforts. Here she introduces us to some of the developers in the Livernois-McNichols neighborhoods, an area targeted for investment from the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, a partnership with the City of Detroit.
Hard work and determination are necessary for any developer in Detroit. Many neighborhoods haven’t seen significant investment in their commercial corridors in years due to financial gaps in the projects’ budgets. Invest Detroit, in partnership with the City of Detroit, is hoping to fills those gaps with the Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF).
Despite all the hard work it takes to build a project, SNF is going the extra mile and partnering with developers who are willing to commit to engaging the neighborhood on these projects. When it’s so hard to get a project across the finish line, engagement can sometimes be neglected. SNF is committed to engaging Detroiters in the rehabilitation of their neighborhood main streets because we believe that it improves programs, leads to greater economic growth, and is the right thing to do.
This past summer, a group of four SNF developers who are working in the Livernois-McNichols neighborhoods partnered with Live6 Alliance to engage residents on their projects, demonstrating how community engagement is a crucial part of SNF’s work. In May of 2019, Live6 Alliance hosted a community dinner for a group of 50 residents. Four development teams attended to present the vision for their projects. Jeremy Lewis, Commercial Corridor manager, welcomed the neighborhood to HomeBase, Live6 Alliance’s new office, and introduced the four development teams to the community.
- Marcus Jones and Akuna Olumba presented their concept first: Detroit Pizza Bar, a fresh, local pizza spot with a rooftop patio.
- Chase Cantrell, Jason Headen, and Lauren Hood followed and presented their concept SuperNatural: a cultural hub that will house restaurants, a bar and performance space that will explore and uplift the spirit and history of the people who have been in the neighborhood for years.
- Next, Robert Williams and Jason Cole outlined their plans to whitebox the two storefronts next to HomeBase and work with the local business associations to identify retail tenants.
- The Atrium project closed the presentation portion of the dinner, discussing their plans to build a two-story mixed-use project proposed by seasoned developers, Roderick Hardamon, George N’Namdi and Richard Hosey.
After the presentations, each development team sat with a group of residents over dinner to share a meal and speak with community members about their proposed projects. Events like this one, hosted by the residents’ own organization, Live6 Alliance, are a great way to give residents a platform and voice in the development process. At each table, residents provided feedback and ways for the teams to tweak and improve their projects to better fit the neighborhood and ensure their eventual success.